Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Did Rand derive her law of identity from Aristotle?

I'm hardly a Randian scholar.

Some would say that I am barely a scholar at all. This blog is never about me.

I have heard that Rand derived much of her ideas from Aristotelian or Aristotelean thought. I cannot prove or disprove it. As stated my familiarity with Objectivism is through various ideas floated around Steve Ditko and Ayn Rand. Most of what I have read confirms my knowledge that Objectivism rejects the notion of unseen spiritual worlds, that we can only deal with the world(s) that we can detect or discern using whatever tools are at our disposal. The other basic element that is relevant to me is that a healthy individual acts in the proper self-interest of that individual. A facet of that basic element is that individuals should not bare the interests of strangers on their own backs, nor should they force their own interests upon the backs of others.

Most people like to frame Randian Objectivism as simply license to be a selfish jerk but in light of the libertarian notion of not using force to finance your ideas with another person's resources it seems rather benign.

I have not finished my research regarding Ayn Rand. I may never.

Now I read that "A is A", the law of identity is a tenet derived from Aristotle. That is difficult for me to confirm directly, easily, or simply from my experience.

Back in 2000 or 2001 standard reading from James Madison College was Aristotle and his work Politics.

What we were taught, and this informs my understanding of how political philosophy works, is that philosophers tend to beget other philosophers, philosophically if not genetically speaking. Socrates inspired Plato. Plato taught Aristotle. Aristotle is a father of logic and political philosophy as we know it. Socrates wrote nothing. But he was a character in Plato's work, The Republic. Aristotle wrote Politics. Many philosophers for thousands of years take off from there, some directly, and many taking their lead from others that took from others that eventually took from Aristotle. Given that it is not unreasonable to state that Ayn Rand incorporated Aristotelian thought into her doctrine. How Rand incorporated it is my question. But the last time I studied Aristotle, and this was his published stuff, was ten years ago. So I have limited direct research of one philosopher's writings and limited memory and research of another's and I am attempting to find a link between the two? And I wanted to do it quickly and shortly? That is madness!

My research and readings suggest that it lies in "Metaphysics" but I have my doubts.

NEXT: I reprint someone else's research regarding Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

NEXT in my series on Aristotle and Aristotelian thought -- I attempt to parse just what the philosopher meant by "Logic".